A Virginia megachurch pastor who was recently arrested following a prostitution sting on charges that he solicited sex has stepped down from his role, the church said in a statement last week.
The church, for its part, has condemned any and all sexual immorality in no uncertain terms and expressed its full support for the ongoing investigation into the pastor’s actions.
John Blanchard of the Rock Church of Virginia Beach was one of 17 arrested in an October sting after he allegedly communicated with an individual he thought was a minor online and arranged to meet for sex, where he was met by law enforcement officers instead.
Rock Church posted a statement to its website last week explaining that Blanchard had “voluntarily” stepped back from his role as Lead Pastor, which he had shared with his wife, Robin.
Mrs. Blanchard will remain in her role as Lead Pastor as Bishop Anne Gimenez, the church’s founder, will be stepping in to replace Mr. Blanchard for the time being.
“During this season, Bishop Anne Gimenez will be stepping in as Lead Pastor and sharing the pulpit with Pastor Robin Blanchard,” the church wrote, as reported by The Christian Post.
“The outpouring of love has been overwhelming and we appreciate all of those who have reached out to be an encouragement to us! We would ask that the privacy of the Blanchard family be respected as they walk through this difficult journey together,” the statement continued.
The church was very clear that it “condemns sexual immorality of any kind and in any form by its members and leaders,” and that it remains “committed to honesty and integrity in dealing with charges or accusations of sexual misconduct or immorality among its leaders and will support any investigation arising from accusations of violation of this standard.”
“Under the guidance of our legal counsel, We cannot make a statement or comment concerning the accusations against Rev. John Blanchard at this time,” the statement noted.
“We are all committed to walking in integrity and truth at Rock Church International and will continue to take steps to do so.”
Jenna Sellers, who used to be a member of Rock Church and served as an assistant to John and Robin Blanchard, filed charges against the former pastor in 2019 after she says he sexually assaulted her at her home.
Sellers recently told 13 News Now that she was stonewalled by the church and completely cut off from her support system after bringing the charges forward. Blanchard, in turn, filed charges against her in civil court.
If you appreciate the work we are doing for faith, family, and freedom, please consider a small donation to help us continue. Thank you so much!